Some Things Are Worth Doing Poorly

I have a greater appreciation for my mother, now that my children are learning piano. When I was a kid, it never crossed my mind that my mom might not thoroughly enjoy hearing the same simple songs played poorly over and over again. She made me practice, so she must want to hear it, right? I thought I was the only reluctant one, until my own children started playing those same simple songs, with the same mistakes, over and over again. It’s not always been very pleasant. And yet I really do like to hear it – not because of the repetitive wrong notes, but because of what they are leading to. Now that a few years have passed, the things my children play on the piano are much nicer to hear. If they keep at it, the things they’ll play in a few more years will be even better. It’s the only way forward. No one masters piano overnight. And what’s true for the instrument is also true for life:

If you want to do something well, the best way to start is by doing it poorly. Continue reading Some Things Are Worth Doing Poorly

My Grandfather’s Questions

My mother’s father was good at asking questions. I didn’t see him often since he lived far away, but when we did visit I knew at some point he would focus in on me specifically (I suppose he did that with everyone), and that’s when the questions would start. They began as standard fact-finding questions about what I was studying or doing in work, what I was reading or enjoying in my free time. In conversations with most people, this is where the questions stop. If the chat continues beyond them, it shifts to weather or sports or some other kind of neutral common ground – but talking to my grandfather was different. The normal questions were just the beginning.

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Malarial Mosquitos And The Power Of A Good Book

This post was co-written with my wife, Jessica

“Mommm!”
“Daaad!”

2am. One of us stumbles out of bed. Again.

“….yes?”

“I can’t sleep. I’m afraid.”

What if there are malarial mosquitos in the house? What if I have a heart attack because I ate too much butter?  What if I get skin cancer from being outside today? I can’t stop thinking about the bad guy from the cartoon, or the child-snatching monster from the fairy tale, or…

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The Hidden (Mental) Work In Housework

I’ve been doing extra chores this week, since my wife Jessica is out of the country. Even with the freezer full of food she left us, it still takes a lot of time and effort to keep things going around here. Dishes and clothes and bathrooms don’t clean themselves, and it doesn’t matter how many times I brush the floor, it’s dirty again. I knew this was coming, and I do housework anyway, but there’s another side of the job that I’ve found more difficult than the extra physical labour involved in being the only adult in a house with three children. There’s a hidden weight in housework that is heavier than all the dishes and laundry and dirt combined: The mental strain of keeping up with all the various things that need to happen, and when, and how.

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Why Is Camping Fun?

Our family loves camping. As soon as we get home from one excursion, we start looking forward to the next. But why?

It’s tons of work.

The packing takes ages. There’s lots of specific (and bulky) equipment needed, and there are complicated logistics like cooking without a kitchen. Even with all the equipment, it’s still uncomfortable. Air mattresses are nice, but the nights are still cold, the walls are still thin, the showers and toilets are far away, and somehow the bugs seem to prefer being inside the tent to anywhere else in the world. I guess they don’t mind the fact that we all smell like the fire.

We have a good, warm house and comfortable beds. Why would we do this to ourselves?

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The Middle Years

My wife and I got married 15 years ago this week. Shortly after, I wrote a short poem for my new bride:

Are there seasons to love, new months and years bring?
If seasons there are, our love is the Spring
A sapling still budding, fresh fruit on the vine
With roots planted deep in the well of Divine

Must needs there be Winter? I haven’t a clue
My prayer is to always be growing the New
But seasons can come, and seasons can go
Our love will remain, it will always be so

Though slowly, yet surely, this oak of the Lord
Will grow up precisely as it has been told
Till stands in God’s garden a tree strong and true
That brings Him a smile as He’s passing through

I suppose it’s natural when you begin something to think of the ending. But there’s something else I didn’t think of so much back then, something we’re living a lot of right now. It’s something you might call “the middle”, or in the words of the poem, that “slowly, yet surely” bit. Saplings may be full of exciting potential, and mature oaks of awe-inspiring strength, but it’s the transformation from one to the other that accounts for the majority of the life of the tree. And our marriage.

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My Education In Possum Holler

It was my mother’s dream to have a log house, and my father built her one in Possum Holler, in the rolling hills of northern Alabama. You’d have trouble finding that name on a map, but it’s the place I grew up alongside the peach and pecan trees my Dad planted in front of the house. I didn’t see very many Opossums there, but it was a Hollow in the mountains, so that fits. There was a lake as well, and a small cave to explore, and a sinkhole, and the forest on the mountain behind us was basically endless. I would certainly have gotten lost several times in those woods, if I hadn’t had our dog along to show me the way home. She always knew, and I learned to trust her, even when I thought she was wrong.

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